And Then Security Escorted Me Out
So, I’ll call you up and invite you out for our twice-a-year lunch, and I’ll put on a slightly nicer dress than usual and you’ll brush your hair and neither of us will call the other out on it. You’ll ask me if I still engage strangers on the subway in lengthy conversations and wake up sometimes in the morning having to take a trip somewhere just because the ticket was on sale, and I’ll say, yeah, I find myself on planes unexpectedly all the time, and you’ll take a swallow of your coffee and sit back with that look of “she’s still the same” satisfaction. You’ll nod when I ask if you still dog-ear the hell out of every book you touch and worry over splitting Mother’s Day between two mothers. Even though I’m not the same. Even though you’re not. Now you sleep around just to sleep around and sometimes when I laugh it’s just a performance.
I’ll tell you that by virtue of your existence, you have ruined everything that’s come after. You’re going to laugh like you think it’s a joke, because you know it isn’t. You’ll ask about my latest infatuation. More importantly, you’ll actually listen and offer commentary at the good parts, and you’ll tell me this person sounds wonderful. It’ll be easy for you to hear my rambling about whoever it is, because you know I’ve already proved that they’re second best just by sitting across from you.
You’ll tell me something like, I feel like I’m hibernating when you’re not around. But you’ll say it so offhandedly, probably while flagging the waitress down for another coffee, or checking your text messages, that you know it won’t really ripple the pond when you tell me something else absurd, something like I’m your spring awakening, and we both know that we like it better offhandedly. You’re the only one who has ever thought my love was enough. I guess that’s why you are the only one who has ever kept it. Because, you know, you understood all along that when I texted you a stupid haiku from Kentucky about bad stir-fry or incompetent hairstylists that what I was really saying was I love you, I miss you, I wish you were here. Everyone else has always wanted more. More explicit love, more devotion, more time, more stability, more, more, more, yes, because that’s what well-adjusted and balanced women give, but you never asked balance or adjustment of me. You just sighed and kept me steady.
We could never work: we worked. And, listen, I was so terrified about what would happen if we suddenly didn’t anymore that I left. I left while I could, calmly and quietly, so that what remained was amicable and familiar. You know if we’d ever gone down, we’d have gone down in flames, and I thought, well, maybe it’s better to just get this over with because it’s bound to happen, and it’s best to make it happen now while I can get out alive rather than be killed by it later. I wanted to preserve it. All of my break-ups are brutal, and what happens is all the gold turns into shit from the bitterness left over. I wanted our gold just to stay gold. I don’t regret that, because it’s worked. I never remember the bad parts, or all the hell we let other people put us through, but I remember that time we painted all your favorite poems on the wall. I wasn’t anywhere near ready for you, but I could see you getting adjusted to an idea of being ready for me, because you’re older and you’re smarter and you’re better than I am. So, I booked it before you could say anything.
I went to that weird little museum again, the one I wrote you from on your birthday a few years ago. The one where, despite the fact that we were continents apart then, I thought for the first time that maybe I could fall in love with you and so I did. I thought about taking someone else with me this time, but I heard you in my head bitching about how I never do anything on my own, and besides that, I was on my own the first time. So. I went alone.
It’s still exactly and absolutely the same, would you believe? But I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised. History doesn’t change. It was still so quiet. I told you when I wrote that letter that I wanted to scream, just to fuck with all the silent tourists covertly snapping their pictures and whispering, but that I didn’t have the courage to do it alone. Maybe if you were there, I told you. If you were there, I’d have done it for you. The more I thought about it, the more I needed to do it. Alone. Without you there. For me, for you, for all the fucking up we’ve done, are doing, and have yet to do. Do you remember the time you told me that story about the waitress you wish I’d met, because she seemed sad and it made you sad and you thought I’d have done something about it if I were there? You said you figured I’d have read her palm. You told me you thought I would’ve made up some elaborate jazz about success on the horizon and pretended I actually knew how to read palms. And we both laughed, because that’s what I would have done. I wish you had done it for me. I thought about that before I yelled. I did it for that waitress, too. I hollered, “It all just keeps rolling forward.” I thought you’d appreciate it. You appreciate blunt philosophies above all, or at least you used to. So, asshole, that’s the last thing I’m going to do for you. Until the next time you call and I decide to answer, at least.
And, no, I didn’t really mean it: Art isn’t dead.